Paint the Town: Final Collector’s View at the Podesta’s

by Editorial

Transformer Gallery looked to Tony and Heather Podesta to host the final Collector’s View of the season.

By Julie LaPorte

Heather and Tony Podesta. Photo by Tony Powell.

Heather and Tony Podesta. Photo by Tony Powell.

No one let the sweltering heat and humidity keep them from making the journey to Tony and Heather Podesta‘s beautifully renovated house for the fourth and final Collector’s View sponsored by Transformer Gallery. Opening up their modern house – with its pale hardwood floors, large grey-white tiles, stainless steel spiral staircase and huge windows – the Podestas drew an energetic and appreciative crowd of art lovers and Transformer Gallery board members, celebrating the series that introduces the public to what it’s like to be a private collector.

“I’ve been collecting since the early 80s,” said Tony, when asked about his start. “I worked for Ted Kennedy when he ran for president in 1980. The campaign wasn’t as successful as we had hoped, and rather quickly they cut everybody’s salary in half. And at the end of the campaign, the way the campaign stayed afloat was to get artists – like Warhol, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein – to make art for the campaign. They sold the art to keep the campaign afloat. And at the end of the campaign, they kept track of how much the other half of the salary was that we didn’t get and I walked out with a big tube of Warhols, Rauschenbergs and Lichtensteins! And that’s how I started collecting art. It was involuntary collecting!”

Now he says, “When you’re an art addict, you inevitably feel like you’re looking all the time.” And his advice for new collectors: “Buy things you love. Buy things that inspire you. Buy things that challenge you.”

The variety and detail of the art displayed was really incredible. Color exploded off large-scale canvases, some covered with delicate lattice work, others with one disconcerting image (a gynocologists chair, a dining room table with chairs askew, a throne) displayed starkly in the center. A series of portraits featured the same soulful brown eyes of the artist looking out at us from behind masks and costumes representing her past – herself as a child, her brother, her mother, her father, her uncle. The ceiling in the exercise room was covered with butterflies crafted from small bones. A long table held several round petri dishes of light with tiny human figures striding purposefully about in a pattern known only to himself, swirling and bumping into one another constantly. A large piece of Icelandic lava stone balances on a skinny pole in the backyard. The figure of a man made from fist-sized spheres rusts gracefully as he stands guard outside the back door.

“One of the things we wanted to do with the house, the first time we hung art here after 36 months of renovation, was to hang all women artists,” said Heather. “And so we selected 15 women artists, hung them in depth, so you have a very good feel for their range of work. It isn’t just one piece of work by one artist. We do get very involved in the artists’ work and tend to focus on several artists and their careers, and we love supporting them.”

And it is that idea of building a relationship between artists and their patrons that Collector’s View is all about. For more information on Transformer Gallery’s upcoming events, visit their website.


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